Tuesday, November 19, 2019

19th November 2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

USA Rice Awarded $4.5M for 2020 International Promotion Activities   

WASHINGTON, DC -- USA Rice has been awarded $4,511,326 in Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) funding from USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to continue marketing and promoting U.S. rice in more than 20 countries worldwide.  These funds are in addition to the already received $5,552,000 in Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) funds, a three-year program announced by President Trump last year.  

More than 70 organizations receive MAP funds and 22 organizations receive FMD funds to promote U.S. agricultural products overseas.

"We are extremely pleased to see that USA Rice's international marketing programs were favorably viewed and received these MAP and FMD funds for 2020," said Terry Harris, chair of the USA Rice International Promotion Committee.  "Leadership from USA Rice's International Promotion Committee and the USA Rice Council will meet in early 2020 to discuss where and how these funds should be allocated in order to maximize sales and exports of U.S. rice.  During times like these when we are faced with retaliatory tariffs in several of our markets, these marketing funds are essential to maintain market share and to seek new opportunities in other markets."

Researchers clear the path for 'designer' plants
New targets for gene editing could lead to more resilient crops
November 18, 2019
University of Georgia
A team of researchers has found a way to identify gene regulatory elements that could help produce 'designer' plants and lead to improvements in food crops at a critical time.

A team of researchers at the University of Georgia has found a way to identify gene regulatory elements that could help produce "designer" plants and lead to improvements in food crops at a critical time. They published their findings in two separate papers in Nature Plants.
With the world population projected to reach 9.1 billion by 2050, world food production will need to rise by 70% and food production in the developing world will need to double, according to estimates from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Improvements in crop plants could play a key role in that effort.
The team, led by Bob Schmitz, demonstrated an ability to identify cis-regulatory elements, or CREs, in 13 plant species, including maize, rice, green beans and barley.
Cis-regulatory elements are regions of noncoding DNA that regulate neighboring genes. If a gene and its CRE can be identified, they can be treated as a modular unit, sometimes called a biobrick. Targeting CREs for editing offers a more refined tool than editing genes, according to Schmitz, associate professor of genetics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
"Gene editing can be like a hammer. If you target the gene, you pretty much break it," he said. "Targeting CREs, which are involved in controlling gene expression -- how a particular characteristic appears -- allows you to turn gene expression up or down, similar to a dial. It gives us a tool to create a whole range of variation in expression of a gene."
Controlling a gene for leaf architecture, for example, might allow a plant breeder to choose the angle at which a leaf grows from a plant, which can play a significant role in the plant's light absorption and growth. Targeting the gene itself would provide two options: "on," where the leaf might grow at a 90-degree angle, and "off," where the leaf might grow straight down. But targeting the CRE instead of the gene would allow the grower to target a range of possibilities in between -- a 10-degree angle, a 25-degree angle, a 45-degree angle, etc.
Once biobricks have been created and screened for the desired output, they could be used to produce "designer" plants that possess desirable characteristics -- for example, salt-tolerant plants that can grow in a landscape with high salinity. The ability to design plants to grow in less-than-ideal landscapes will become more and more important as food growers strive to produce more in an environment facing increasing challenges, like drought and flooding.
Based on their success, the research team recently received a $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the role of CREs in legumes, including peanuts and soybeans.
Underlying the grant proposal and the papers are technological breakthroughs developed by Zefu Lu, Bill Ricci and Lexiang Ji.
"Zefu took a high-throughput method for identifying specific elements that was developed for animal cells and found a way to apply it to plant cells. It took a long time to address the significant barrier of plant organellar genomes, but now we're able to do what the animal field has been doing for a few years," Schmitz said.
"When people try to find trait/disease associations, they look for mutations in genes, but the work in animals has shown that these non-gene regions also possess mutations that affect the way in which a gene is expressed. The regions we're identifying with this method are revealing regulatory information for gene expression control, which traditionally has been challenging to detect compared to genes."
One of Ricci's contributions was developing a technique that shows the link between CREs and the gene they control.
"Typically CREs are located right next to the gene they control, but in plants with larger genomes -- soybeans, maize -- it's become clear that these controlling elements can appear very far away," Schmitz said. "In two-dimensional space something may appear far away, over many thousands of base pairs, but Bill's method shows that in three dimensions, it's actually positioned right next to the gene."
This work -- the first time it has been applied to plants -- provided the foundation for the two papers published in Nature Plants, and Schmitz paid tribute to his team members' contributions.
"This is a group effort," he said. "Zefu, Bill and Lexiang were major drivers of this research."
"Widespread Long-range Cis-Regulatory Elements in the Maize Genome" provides genetic, epigenomic and functional molecular evidence supporting the widespread existence of long-distance loci that act as long-range CREs influencing if and how a gene in the maize genome is expressed.
In "The prevalence, evolution and chromatin signatures of plant regulatory elements," the researchers identified thousands of CREs and revealed that long-distance CREs are prevalent in plants, especially in species with large and complex genomes. Additional results suggest that CREs function with distinct chromatin pathways to regulate gene expression.
The team's work will be shared via publicly available epigenome browsers that were developed by Brigitte Hofmeister, a recent Ph.D. graduate from the Schmitz Lab.
"Our studies are genome wide, and we do a lot of technique and technology development, but it's not useful if people can't access it," Schmitz said. "We provide epigenome browsers that allow people studying leaf architecture, for example, to access information on the specific genes or traits they're interested in."
Industry is also interested in CREs, according to Schmitz. Their editing pipeline is well established for genes, and the next obvious target for editing is CREs once they are located.
"It's not just academia using this for basic science," he said. "The applications of this approach to identify CREs will become commonplace in industry to improve crop performance."
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Story Source:
Materials provided by University of GeorgiaNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal References:
1.     William A. Ricci, Zefu Lu, Lexiang Ji, Alexandre P. Marand, Christina L. Ethridge, Nathalie G. Murphy, Jaclyn M. Noshay, Mary Galli, María Katherine Mejía-Guerra, Maria Colomé-Tatché, Frank Johannes, M. Jordan Rowley, Victor G. Corces, Jixian Zhai, Michael J. Scanlon, Edward S. Buckler, Andrea Gallavotti, Nathan M. Springer, Robert J. Schmitz, Xiaoyu Zhang. Widespread long-range cis-regulatory elements in the maize genomeNature Plants, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41477-019-0547-0
2.     Zefu Lu, Alexandre P. Marand, William A. Ricci, Christina L. Ethridge, Xiaoyu Zhang, Robert J. Schmitz. The prevalence, evolution and chromatin signatures of plant regulatory elementsNature Plants, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41477-019-0548-z

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University of Georgia. "Researchers clear the path for 'designer' plants: New targets for gene editing could lead to more resilient crops." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 November 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191118140339.htm>.

Cabinet doubles HRA of ministers
Session on Nov 26 to mark 70 yrs of Constitution Day | Govt seeks data on jobs to local youth
Nov 19, 2019, 7:11 AM; last updated: Nov 19, 2019, 7:11 AM (IST)

Description: Cabinet doubles HRA of ministers
CM Manohar Lal Khattar presides over the Cabinet meeting in Chandigarh on Monday. Tribune photo
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 18
The Cabinet on Monday hiked house rent allowance (HRA) for ministers from Rs50,000 to Rs80,000. An additional amount of Rs20,000 would be paid to cover power and water charges. With a total amount of Rs1 lakh per month, HRA was doubled.
The Cabinet decided to bring in an amendment in Rule 10-AA of the Haryana Ministers Allowances Rules for allowing the hike in HRA. The new rules will be called the Haryana Ministers Allowances (Amendment) Rules.
All allowances admissible to ministers were revised by the government with effect from or after April 1, 2016. “The last HRA hike was on June 2, 2011,” said Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who chaired the Cabinet meeting.
This was the second Cabinet meeting of government after coming to power. The Cabinet allowed authorisation given to the CM, to be continued for six more months, on matters pertaining to implementation of GST, including framing of rules and rates.
New department
The Cabinet decided to create a new department — Foreign Cooperation — “to streamline and provide focus to various initiatives taken by the state government for promotion of investment, employment to Haryanavi youth and welfare of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and persons of Indian origin (PIOs)”.
“An IAS officer will be the nodal officer of the new department. It will oversee opportunities in industry, commerce, investment and employment for state youth in foreign countries. It will check illegal immigration. Many people have been deported recently,” said Khattar.
The department would maintain liaison with Indian missions abroad, Ministry of External Affairs and foreign missions in New Delhi on matters pertaining to Haryana with regard to investment, employment, education, skill development, culture and NRI and PIO affairs.
It would work for development of global country-wise marketing and communication strategies to ensure links with the Haryanavi diaspora.
The Cabinet noted paddy procurement was almost over. “Paddy will be given to rice millers for converting it into rice, which takes time. During this time, rice millers will be regularly checked as there have been complaints of mismanagement,” said Khattar.
No goods train, 3.4 lakh MT grain left to rot
Service was suspended in Sultanpur Lodhi | Change in transport mode needs FCI nod | Millers in spot19, 2019, 6:48 AM; last updated: Nov 19, 2019, 10:25 AM (IST)

Aparna Banerji
Tribune News Service
Sultanpur Lodhi, November 18
With the revamp of the railway station at Sultanpur Lodhi for the 550th Parkash Utsav, the 50-year-old goods train track of the town has been dispensed with.
Resultantly, as many as 3,40,000 tonnes of grain lies piled up at godowns in the town. The goods train, which was supposed to ferry this stock, was discontinued in May to make room for passenger platform in view of the huge passenger footfall for the 550th Parkash Utsav.
The new station was inaugurated by Union Minster Harsimrat Kaur Badal on November 7. Rice millers from the town had also given a memorandum to her on the issue. They were promised that the goods train would be resumed by September 15, but to no avail. The Railways now say it will take six months for an alternative goods train track to be constructed.
While the Sultanpur Lodhi railway station received an impressive and grand revamp – in which the previous goods platform was expanded to accommodate passenger footfall — no alternative platform or track was created to allow the goods train. A track at Shahkot railways station was provided as a makeshift arrangement, but it cannot be used as the FCI (which organises the transport and public distribution of the foodgrain) needs to pass a tender first which it hasn’t done yet.
As many as 21 rice shells at Sultanpur Lodhi haven’t been able to process a single grain of paddy this season because there is no room to keep the processed rice since all godowns are filled to the brim. Due to work being suspended, millers are incurring a monthly loss of Rs 12-13 lakh.
In all 1,75,000 metric tonnes (MT) of paddy (to be processed into 1,20,000 MT of rice); 97,000 MT of last year’s rice and 68,000 MT of wheat are piled up at godowns in the town. With an average of 16,000 MT of grain being ferried from the town via goods train per month, the stopping of the train has hit the local economy with millers bearing labour, electricity and salary costs for the peak winter season (November to February) when processing takes place. The FCI says the Railways first gave time till September 15 and later extended it to November 15 before finally revealing that the project will take another six months to be cleared.
Prathmesh Jain, a rice miller, said, “The goods train has been running for the past 50 years. It is a ridiculous oversight where lakhs of tonnes of grain have been left to rot with scant regard for livelihood of hundreds. We asked the Railways to provide substitute platforms at Shahkot or Kapurthala, but the FCI hasn’t allowed ferrying from Shahkot yet. The quality of grain will degrade in six months.”
He said, “We had taken up the issue with the FCI, DRM and had also submitted a memorandum to Harsimrat Kaur Badal, but there has been no response.”
Rajesh Aggarwal, DRM, Northern Railways, Ferozepur Division, said, “Alternative arrangement has already been given for goods loading at Shahkot. If the grain is not taken there, it is due to the FCI. The Sultanpur Lodhi point was shut in June and Shakot is an alternative point. A goods track can be made at the same point. But it has to be sanctioned and requires a lot of money.”
Kamal Kishore, DM, FCI, Kapurthala, said, “The FCI has to consider cost-effectiveness before providing alternative place for ferrying of goods. For allowing loading from Shahkot, tender will have to be passed. We will do it this week, but it will take another 12-15 days before the line resumes (from Shahkot).” Arshdeep Singh, General Manager, FCI, said, “We are aware of the matter. A substitute is being arranged, but I can’t commit a time span yet.”

Sultanpur Lodhi: Rice mill operations hit as FCI cites storage crunch to refuse fresh stock
As the Sultanpur Lodhi station was being upgraded for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak, the platform for the goods train was modified for passenger trains to handle the rush
Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba |Jalandhar |Published: November 19, 2019 8:18:38 am

There are 21 mills in Sultanpur Lodhi having a capacity of 100 tonnes milling per hour. Archive
The rice mills in Sultanpur Lodhi are facing a crisis due to discontinuation of the transportation of foodgrains from the town’s FCI (Food Corporation of India) godown on account of upgradation of the railway station here. With no foodgrain movement from the godown since May this year, the FCI has no space to accommodate rice from the current season’s crop which the mills are to process from paddy procured by the corporation. “With the FCI refusing to take it, where we will send it,” said Anil Arora, owner of a rice mill in Sultanpur Lodhi.
As the Sultanpur Lodhi station was being upgraded for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak, the platform for the goods train was modified for passenger trains to handle the rush. A new line and a new goods train platform is yet to come up to resume the reloading of foodgrains from here. The millers say that they cannot start milling paddy as the rice thus produced must be supplied to the FCI godown for storage within 24 hours.
As a result, the milling that should have started in September is yet to get underway and hundreds of workers are facing the brunt.
Around 98,000 tonnes of milled rice from last year (worth Rs 325 crore) is lying in this FCI godown, leaving no space for new rice this season. Also, 68,000 metric tonnes of wheat worth Rs 160 crore has been lying in the open.
This year’s 1.75 lakh tonnes of paddy worth Rs 350 crores procured by Punjab government has already been stored in the mills which will make rice and supply to the FCI. But the FCI has refused to take milled rice of the new crop because it has no space for fresh rice.
There are 21 mills in Sultanpur Lodhi having a capacity of 100 tonnes milling per hour as the mills run 24×7 when milling begins.
“As per the agreement with the FCI, the millers have to supply rice to FCI by March 31 and if we start milling paddy, we have to supply milled paddy in the form of rice to the FCI with in 24 hours of milling,” said Anil Arora, who is also a member of the Sultanpur Lodhi Rice Millers Association. He added that their appeals to the FCI over the past four months had fallen on deaf ears.
Railway authorities said that a new platform and new line is required for the goods train, which will take around six months.
Rakesh Dhir, president of the rice millers association, said that this is the only industry that Sultanpur Lodhi has and it is on the verge of being ruined due to the present crisis.
Freshly procured paddy is generally stored in rice mills, which then supply milled rice to government godowns. Millers get Rs 10 per quintals for milling. As per the agreement, the Millers have to supply rice to the FCI by May-June every year.
“If milling doesn’t start soon, we will miss the deadline. After March, breakage and discolouring problems are seen in the milled rice which are against the specification of the FCI,” said secretary of the association, Narinder Nayyar.
“Our labour is sitting idle as they have no other source of income to feed their families,” added Dhir.
Division Manager, FCI, Kapurthala, Kamal Kishore Shondilya , said that the railways had assured them a new platform and track by November 15, but now they were demanding more time. Now, railways has assured us loading facility at Shahkot, he added.
Palace says no order yet to suspend rice imports
November 18, 2019 | 10:23 pm
Description: https://www.bworldonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/rice-stall-111919.jpgThe President’s spokesman said that no order has been officially issued to suspend rice imports, contrary to reports. -- PHILIPPNE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS
THE President’s spokesman Monday said that no order has been officially issued to suspend rice imports, contrary to reports.
Salvador S. Panelo said in a message to reporters Monday that no directive has been issued by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, following a report by GMA News on Sunday claiming an exclusive with the President.
“As of this time there is no order to stop rice importation given to Secretary (William D.) Dar of the Department of Agriculture,” Mr. Panelo said.
GMA online cited the source of the report as its own 24-Oras Weekend program on Sunday, which claimed to have spoken exclusively with the President on Friday.
The GMA report said the suspension is intended to help farmers currently experiencing difficulty due to the low prices of palay, or unmilled rice, due to competition from imported rice.
The Rice Tariffication Law took effect in March, liberalizing rice imports and introducing more competition for domestic farmers, pressuring the prices they can command for palay, the form in which they sell their crop to traders.
In a July speech, Mr. Duterte expressed his interest in suspending rice imports to protect farmers, particularly during the harvest when supply is typically plentiful with many farmers trying to sell their crop. — Gillian M. Cortez

Philippines adopts measures to protect rice farmers

Government move to bring down price of rice has its downside

Published:  November 18, 2019 16:33Gilbert P. Felongco, Correspondent

Description: 1.2228581-2463530259A ricefield in the Philippines.Image Credit: Youtube screengrab
Manila: The Philippines has put in place measures to shield its farmers from detrimental effects of an earlier move to liberalise the importation of rice.
According to agriculture secretary William Dar, the Philippines imposed protective measures such as tighter requirements on imported grains in a bid to protect local farmers.
“We will continue to be strict and continue to elevate [food safety] measures before the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPSIC),” Dar said.
Local rice planters had been complaining that low prices of un-milled rice resulting from the implementation the Rice Tarrification Law earlier this year had left locally produced cereals unable to compete with imports.
In March, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Rice Tarrification Law not just to bring down the price of rice, but also in accordance to the country’s commitments with the World Trade Organisation. Manila also started imposing tariff on imported rice in lieu of import quotas to ease inflation.


Last year, the country experienced its highest inflation in recent years. Economists blamed the high prices of commodities for this and rice is among the biggest factor. To bring down the price of the staple, government allowed the importation of the grain.
But the measures to bring down the price of rice is also resulting in low income for farmers.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), as of October 25 prices of un-milled rice plunged to their lowest in eight years.
Description: 1.1527445-1529885854Ifugao province, part of the spectacular mountain rice terrace region in northern Philippines, is listed by Unesco as a World Heritage site.Image Credit: AFP
PSA said the farm-gate price of rice fell to P15.35 per kilo (Dhs .96)---27 per cent lower compared to the prices in the same period last year.
This brought about calls for the suspension of the Rice Tarrification Law (RTL).

Tighter requirements

But instead of holding the implementation of the RTL in abeyance, government tightened its quality requirements on imported grains to protect local farmers.
Dar said that the Philippine government has already informed Vietnam and Thailand — the main sources of Manila’s rice requirement — on the tighter SPSIC measures.
“We are not afraid (of repercussions) because we are after food safety,” Dar replied when queried possible criticisms from importers and rice-producing nations.
At present Manila has imported a total of 2.9 million metric tonnes making the country the world’s top rice importer surpassing China which is expected to import 2.5 MMT.
Dar said that the review of the Rice Tarriffication Law is still premature.
“Give the law a chance. We want RTL to work for both farmers and consumers,” he said.
“At the end of the day, this is a reform that has been long wanting and should be implemented now.”
Earlier, a report from GMA News said Duterte had ordered a halt in the importation of rice to protect the farmers, but this was dismissed by Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

sources of Manila’s rice requirement — on the tighter SPSIC measures.
“We are not afraid (of repercussions) because we are after food safety,” Dar replied when queried possible criticisms from importers and rice-producing nations.
At present Manila has imported a total of 2.9 million metric tonnes making the country the world’s top rice importer surpassing China which is expected to import 2.5 MMT.
Dar said that the review of the Rice Tarriffication Law is still premature.
“Give the law a chance. We want RTL to work for both farmers and consumers,” he said.
“At the end of the day, this is a reform that has been long wanting and should be implemented now.”
Earlier, a report from GMA News said Duterte had ordered a halt in the importation of rice to protect the farmers, but this was dismissed by Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

BREAKING: No Duterte order to suspend rice importation — Palace

By: Nestor Corrales - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
INQUIRER.net / 12:00 PM November 18, 2019
MANILA, Philippines — There is no order from President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend rice importation in the Philippines following farmers’ woes due to the Rice Tariffication Law, Malacañang said Monday.
“As of this time there is no order to stop rice importation given the Sec. Dar of the Department of Agriculture per the latter,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a text message.
GMA News’ 24-Oras Weekend reported Sunday that Duterte ordered the suspension of the rice importation.
The Rice Tariffication Law opened the country’s doors to unimpeded importation of rice .
A report by the United States’ Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Services (USDA-FAS) has projected the country’s rice imports to reach a record three million metric tons (MT) by year-end, making the Philippines the world’s biggest importer of rice this year.

Farmers’ groups oppose rice liberalization

Updated November 18, 2019, 2:33 PM
By Chito Chavez
Multi-sectoral agricultural groups on Monday demanded that the government heed the people’s clamor to junk the law on liberal rice importation.
Description: Department of Agrarian Reform Rafael Mariano appears in Senate for his ad interim appointment in Pasay City on Wednesday. (JAY GANZON)
Former Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano. (JAY GANZON / MB FILE PHOTO)
In showing strong opposition to RA 11203, various national farmers organizations, agriculture-based institutions and stakeholders in the rice industry have pressed for a unified  position on the Rice Tariffication Law which has been wreaking havoc on the livelihood of rice farmers and the domestic rice industry for the past nine months.
The protesting groups include the Federation of Free Farmers, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Bantay Bigas, PAKISAMA, Katarungan, Solidarity of Agrarian Reform Alliance, PHILCONGRAINS, National Food Authority-Employees Association, United Broilers and Raisers Association, Focus on the Global South-Philippines, National Movement for Food Sovereignty and several other institutions and NGOs.
They asked for government action in the immediate review and suspension of Republic Act 11203.
“It is high time that Lower House, Senate, and Malacanang heed the peoples’ demand. Our calls for the repeal of the Rice Liberalization Law are just and valid. In the past months, we have witnessed how this abominable law has pushed the PH rice industry to the brink of destruction and extinction. We are now banding together to save our rice farmers and the local agriculture,” said KMP’s Rafael Mariano, also a former agrarian reform secretary.
Mariano, a former Agrarian Reform Secretary under the Duterte administration, added the KMP will participate in the nationally-coordinated action against the Rice Liberalization Law on Nov. 20.

Indonesia farm minister sees higher rice output in 2020, cocoa flat
NOVEMBER 18, 2019 / 12:01 PM
JAKARTA, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Indonesia’s Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo told parliament on Monday:

* The output of rice in 2020 is seen at 59.15 million tonnes, up from an estimated 52.82 million production in 2019

* Corn production in 2020 is seen at 30.35 million tonnes versus an estimated 25.8 million this year

* White sugar production in 2020 is seen at 2.46 million tonnes, up slightly from production of 2.45 million estimated for 2019

* Indonesia’s 2020 cocoa beans output seen at 650,000 tonnes, unchanged from its 2019 estimate

* Indonesia’s 2020 coffee beans output seen at 760,000 tonnes, up from 2019’s estimated output of 730,000 tonnes

* Natural rubber output next year is seen at 3.59 million tonnes, up from 3.54 million tonnes estimated this year (Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe, Writing by Fransiska Nangoy; editing by Uttaresh.V)

VN ministry says rice quality key to exports

Asia News Network | Publication date 17 November 2019 | 20:52 ICT

Workers at Hau River Food Company in Vietnam’s southern province of Can Tho load rice for export. The total rice export volume and value in the first 10 months of this year reached 5.56 million tonnes and $2.43 billion. DINH HUE/VIETNAM NEWS AGENCY/VIET NAM NEWS
Vietnamese rice producers and exporters needed to focus on quality and supplying products that were in demand, rather than simply looking at quantity, according to the Agricultural Products Processing and Development Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Development.
The total rice export volume and value in the first 10 months of this year reached 5.56 million tonnes and $2.43 billion, respectively.
The figures represented a rise of 6.1 per cent in volume and a drop of 9.1 per cent in value compared to the same period last year.
Vietnam’s five per cent broken rice is now fetching $350 per tonne, the highest level in the past two months, but still lower than that of India ($365-370 per tonne) and Thailand ($395-400 per tonne).
In the first seven months of this year, Vietnamese rice exports to China decreased by 67 per cent to 400,000 tonnes, whereas in the past China often imported up to two million tonnes of rice from Vietnam annually.
The decline had knocked China off top spot as the country’s main export market, accounting for just more than eight per cent of Vietnam’s total export value, Minister of Agriculture and Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said at a seminar on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Cambodia, another rice exporter in the region, has increased exports to China.
The Kingdom’s rice exports to China rose sharply in the first nine months of this year, reaching nearly 158,000 tonnes, up 44 per cent from the same period last year, Cambodia Rice Federation data shows.
This year, the Kingdom plans to export 300,000 tonnes of rice to China and raise the figure to 400,000 tonnes next year.
Cambodia prioritises the production of organic rice to offer clean materials that meet market demands and ensure the sustainable growth of rice exports.
In terms of rice export volume, Vietnam exports on average five to seven million tonnes of rice annually, making it one of the world’s top three largest rice exporters. Last year, Vietnam exported more than six million tonnes of rice while Cambodia sold only about 626,200 tonnes.
However, in terms of quality and brand, Cambodia is gradually becoming a formidable opponent in the region.
At the 10th The Rice Trader (TRT) World Rice Conference 2018 held in October last year in Hanoi, Cambodian premium fragrant rice Malys Angkor won the World’s Best Rice award.
The Kingdom is also among the top five organic rice exporters to the EU market, behind only the US, Pakistan, India and Thailand.
Regarding export markets, Vietnamese rice is now exported to 150 countries and territories in the world, but mostly in the low price segment.
Cambodia now exports rice to a few dozen countries, mainly “picky” markets.
In the long-term strategy, Cuong said, the agriculture sector should look at reducing the total area of rice plantations to a level that ensured food security and partial exports.
Cuong said the domestic market needed to ensure supplies and the quality of rice and packaging. Regarding export markets, Vietnam should promote and expand markets, for example, in Africa and the Middle East, as well as regional markets such as Indonesia and the Philippines.
At the TRT World Rice Conference 2019 in Manila, the Philippines last week, Vietnam’s organic rice from Soc Trang ST24 was crowned the best in the world. This is a good first step towards improvement of the country’s rice quality.

Hong Kong protests, cheap Chinese rivals: why Thai rice is in crisis

·       The country was once the world’s top exporter but it has been hit by a triple whammy of unrest in Hong Kong, a strong baht and tough competition
·       With rice front and centre in Thai politics, that’s bad news for Bangkok
Description: Jitsiree Thongnoi
Published: 12:15pm, 17 Nov, 2019
Description: Rice at a market in Bangkok. Photo: AFP
Rice at a market in Bangkok. Photo: AFP
Thai rice, once dominant on the world market, is now facing a triple whammy of a strong baht, tough competition from Asian neighbours and social unrest in Hong Kong that is weighing on demand.
The weaker sales overseas are part of a lacklustre performance by the country’s export sector amid an almost 10 per cent rise in the currency against the US dollar since the beginning of the year. Rice exports have been left exposed to stiff competition from large producers such as India, Vietnam and China.
Traders have also blamed continuing anti-government protests in Hong Kong, where about half of rice classified as premium produce comes from Thailand. The number of tourists visiting the Chinese city has plunged in recent months, from 5.1 million in July to 3.1 million in September.
Description: Thai farmers harvest rice in a field in Thailand’s southern Narathiwat province. Photo: AFP
Thai farmers harvest rice in a field in Thailand’s southern Narathiwat province. Photo: AFP
Thailand exported 143,000 tonnes of rice to Hong Kong between January and September last year.
In the same period this year, the country managed only 127,000 tonnes – an 11 per cent drop.
“Thai premium white rice caters mainly to Hong Kong’s tourism sector,” said Charoen Laothamatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA). “But we have seen fewer shipments to Hong Kong in recent months as there is lower demand from restaurants and hotels.”
Thailand’s share of the city’s rice market peaked in 2016 at 64 per cent, but Laothamatas said it had since fallen to about 52 per cent.
However, a source at Chaitip, a major rice trading company that has been exporting to Hong Kong for more than a century, said the demonstrations had not been as damaging as recent price rises.
“The lower demand is not due to the unrest, it is because jasmine rice has become too expensive,” said the source.
“Droughts in many parts of Thailand this year have led to lower production of jasmine rice, which is why the price has shot up.”
Thai hom mali, or premium jasmine rice, is the country’s most recognisable rice product. Its slim and aromatic grain now costs about 1,200 baht (US$39) per tonne, while Vietnam’s white rice is priced at about half that figure.
The industry is crucial for Thailand because of the large number of Thais who depend on it. It supports as much as 30 per cent of the country’s 69-million population, according to Chookiat Ophaswongse, TREA’s special president.
Description: Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra relied heavily on government subsidies to rice producers to win political support. Photo: AP
Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra relied heavily on government subsidies to rice producers to win political support. Photo: AP
It has often been central to Thai politics, with the country’s farmers holding considerable political influence. Support from Thailand’s rural northeast was central to the electoral success of the Shinawatra family between 2001 and 2014. Former prime ministers Thaksin and his sister Yingluck relied heavily on government subsidies to rice producers, who in turn formed the backbone of their populist “red shirt” movement, which clashed repeatedly with anti-Thaksin, pro-monarchy “yellow shirts”. The conflict led to a military intervention in 2014 that only ended this year with elections in March.
Until 2012 Thailand was the world’s top rice exporter in terms of volume, but India took the top spot after it lifted a ban on non-basmati rice exports in 2011.

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The loss of Thailand’s prized position came in the wake of a “rice-pledging scheme” embarked on by Yingluck’s administration. The government bought rice from farmers at inflated prices, which sent the price of the product upwards on the world market while forcing down demand. An 18-million-tonne stockpile was accumulated by the state, the last of which was shipped out to market only last year, when total exports for the year stood at 11 million tonnes.
The disastrous programme cost the government US$8 billion, according to figures from the military, which cited it as a major justification for its coup that deposed Yingluck in 2014. The prime minister was subsequently sentenced in absentia to five years in prison, and the military junta then worked hard to court Thai rice farmers before it relinquished power this year.
Description: Bags of rice stacked at a factory in Bangkok. Photo: AFP
Bags of rice stacked at a factory in Bangkok. Photo: AFP
Nipon Puapongsakorn, a researcher at the Thailand Development Research Institute Foundation, said the government subsidy programme was a short-sighted attempt to maintain Thailand’s agricultural productivity and competitiveness.
The state last month also began paying farmers across Thailand who have joined a rice price guarantee scheme.
The scheme ensures farmers are paid the difference when the price falls below a predetermined benchmark. It covers five types of rice, including those from the country’s hom mali paddy and glutinous rice paddy, which are badly affected by drought and floods.
The programme will run until October next year, but several other subsidies and financial support schemes for rice farmers and growers of other crops, including oil palm, cassava, rubber and corn, will be available for longer.
Sudarat Keyuraphan, a key member of Thailand’s Shinawatra-backed Pheu Thai political party, this week said the government subsidy would allow middlemen to reduce the price of rice further when they bought from farmers.
But Puapongsakorn said these measures were only short term. “The budget for subsidy programmes is much higher than that for rice research, which helps Thailand stay competitive in the long run,” he said.
The researcher added that India’s development of hybrid fragrant rice and Vietnam’s research into soft white rice for export had seen Thailand’s jasmine rice lose its charm among international buyers.
“Vietnam has lower costs and the country’s currency is under control,” he said. “The government needs to develop new types of rice that meet more of the market demand.”
Vietnam is now the third-biggest supplier in the world.
Meanwhile, China, with its estimated rice stockpile of more than 100 million tonnes, has begun releasing supply to African countries, further edging out Thai producers, according to Puapongsakorn. He said China’s exports rose more than 70 per cent last year due to demand from Africa, with Ivory Coast the country’s biggest customer.

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Chinese white rice cost US$300 a tonne in July, while similar grains from Thailand were quoted at US$390, those from Vietnam at US$360, and India at US$370, according to Thai media.

Market share for Thailand in Africa stood at 51 per cent last year, TREA figures show.
Laothamatas said TREA had cut its export target for this year to less than 8.5 million tonnes, down from the usual figure of between 9 million and 9.5 million.
“There was no competition 20 years ago, but there is competition everywhere now, from India, Pakistan, Myanmar and Cambodia,” he said. “We need to develop new rice varieties and reduce our costs so that we can compete.”
Ophaswongse told Bloomberg that the competition was “killing us all”. “We don’t know what else we can do. We tried reducing costs, but the baht keeps making our rice more expensive,” he said.
“We can only sit and wait, and some might have to quit the business.”